Friday, August 26, 2011

MLS Team Colors Lack Uniformity

Watching Toronto FC vs. FC Dallas the last 2 nights (1st night got cancelled because of lightning strikes close to the stadium) compete in CONCACAF Champions League took some time to get used to.  Usually, FC Dallas plays in red, but for the last 2 nights, they were dressed in blue.  

Toronto's main theme color is red.  They were the home team, so they got the privilege of wearing red over FC Dallas, which they did the first night, a deep red.  The second night, they wore a sort of red/orange.

The confusion among team colors merits a review of whether MLS teams are doing a good job or bad job in selecting their colors and uniforms.

Overall, there are too many teams with similar color schemes, too many reds and blues. Compounding this problem, teams don't wear their team names anywhere on the uniforms, giving the space to advertisers.

Advertising on the uniforms is fine.  It's one more way to generate revenue.  But, team names should always be visible and easy to spot for sports fans.  For example, if D.C. United has Volkswagen on the front of their uniforms, there's room enough right below the VW insignia to put their team name.

Also, there does not seem to be enough synchronicity among MLS teams when it comes to home and away uniforms.  A lesson from other U.S. sports leagues, may be needed.  For the most part, in the recent past, in both the NBA and the NFL, the home team chooses to either wear mostly white or their dominant team color.  The visiting teams play in opposite style, with either their dominant color or their whites, depending on how the home team chooses.

It seems, some MLS teams are using multiple uniforms for both home and away.  They are mixing up 3 or 4 colors and forming sets of uniforms.  Apparently, they are called 'kits.'

In world Soccer, it is typical to change-out the uniform from year to year, as the advertisers change. This is another area in which MLS has tried to copy too much of what the rest of the world is doing. It's not necessary to make wholesale changes.  It may be about selling more uniforms to the public, but a team playing with too many uniforms takes away from the main uniform's importance.

Teams should stick with more simple themes.  Interestingly, it seems the more simpler, the more distinctive.  Sports fans are able to match colors to cities better for long-term memory.  Local fan bases are able to identify with a color and embrace it as their own.  

There are some impressive uniforms.  Seattle and Houston come to mind.  They have chosen bright colors.

It is excellent to see Seattle in green and Houston in orange, sometimes even wearing their colors for both shorts and shirts.  These colors stand out and are immediately recognizable.  They are able to build a bigger constituency not just within their own city limits, but throughout the country.

Other than Houston and Seattle, Portland has done a good job in standing apart with forest green as their main color.  It goes well with their Oregon Timbers theme.  There are other good colors in MLS too, like the yellow of Columbus, the purple of Real Salt Lake and the black of D.C.

MLS is still in a battle for mainstream status.  They can't relax just because of the NBC contract. They have to get all the little things in order to maintain their momentum.  Uniformity among uniforms will make it easier on sports fans.

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